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Transferred Intent

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Transferred Intent

February 07, 2019
By Lafferty Gallagher Scott

In order to prove an intentional tort, such as assault or battery, a plaintiff must show that a defendant intended to commit the tort. Under the doctrine of transferred intent, a defendant’s intent to commit a tort against one person may be transferred to another person.

For example, a defendant swings a baseball bat at his friend, intending to scare him or her. The defendant accidentally hits a bystander with the bat. The defendant intended to commit an assault against the friend but instead committed a battery against the bystander. Under the doctrine of transferred intent, the defendant’s intent to assault the friend is transferred to the bystander, so the defendant’s conduct constitutes a battery against the bystander.

The doctrine of transferred intent applies only to the torts of assault, battery, false imprisonment, trespass to land, and trespass to chattels.

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